Saturday, May 16, 2015

Hypothetical mixtape: July 2014

Autumn is winding its inevitable way towards winter. The sun is shining, the seemingly interminable strong winds have abated. Let's listen to some tunes.

"Pharaohs", by Tears for Fears. Where better to start than the High Eighties? Soft-focus drum machine, extremely elegant piano, tasteful (naturally!) synth washes, and some very David Sylvian-esque electric guitar shadings, bound together by what sounds like (update: is!) the BBC Shipping Forecast. As The Go-Betweens almost sang but didn't quite, tasteful's not a bad word.

"Coup", by 23 Skidoo. If you thought you had heard this song before, even though you don't know 23 Skidoo from Adam, it may be that you are a fan of The Chemical Brothers.

"Every Morning", by J Mascis. So this is what a Dinosaur Jr song would sound like if you scraped away all of the sludge. You'll believe a man can fly. (I have no idea where that came from.) (Consumer advisory: you can listen to the song below, or you can go here to watch a fine video of the song, starring the one and only Fred Armisen.)

"Here Comes That Sound Again", by Love De-Luxe. Alan Hawkshaw was one of the leading lights of the British "library" music scene, making speculative film and television themes for anyone who might want one. Hence, particularly if you are British, you almost certainly have heard his work, even though you probably don't know it. What I didn't know until now was that he stuck his finger in the disco pie at the end of the seventies and pulled out this remarkable plum: seventeen minutes of spot-on disco propulsion. It starts big, goes HUGE in the chorus, drops back for, what, ten minutes?, and, just when your energy starts to flag and your eyes start to wander out the window, here comes that chorus again. BOOM. 

(Bonus: album cover of the month oh yeah.)

"Rain Code (Fennesz Remix)", by Jensen Sportag. Apologies to the original artist, but for me this is all about the remixer. Fennesz here is playing with our emotions (and with electricity) in a similar manner to last year's stunning "Becs" album.

 "Mental Kombat (Ric & Mso's Sneaky Chic Soup Remix)", by Sneaky Tim. As with the previous track, we are here because of the involvement (as one of two remixers, so we better apologise to M/S/O as well) of Ricardo Villalobos, who has been slightly quiet, at least by his standards, of late. Either you intuit Villalobos or you be bored stoopid. He tweaks the beats, ever so subtly, over inordinate lengths of time. If you said life was too short I wouldn't, in all honesty, have much to come back at you with (well, except "You Are Wrong").

"James Brown", by Nancy Dupree. A school teacher and a bunch of enthusiastic kids tell the story of James Brown – in the style of James Brown! Complete with "Good God!"s.) You need to hear this.

"Mighty Cloud of Joy", by Mighty Clouds of Joy.  We like a big, thumpin' soul tune around here, oh yes we do. Here's one right now. Carl's verdict: that's a great voice.

"Play That Funky Music", by Dan Boadi and the African Internationals. Yes, I know you really want to tack the words "white boy" onto the end of the song title, but don't. Just don't. This track is from 1977. It runs along a parallel path to disco, but you can't really call it disco, it's just classic African grooves, really. (From Ghana, I believe, but details are scarce.) The Hammond solo is something we can all appreciate. The recorder solo? Not so much, maybe.

"What Happened Before They Took The People Away?", by Top Drawer. Is this Southern boogie? Is Kentucky even in the South? Hey, I'm not a geography nerd. As music transitioned from psychedelic pop music circa 1967 in the direction of the hard rock sounds of the early seventies, there was no shortage of bands helping that transition along. Top Drawer was one such band, and one of many such bands largely lost to history until the crate diggers of Century 21 noticed some loose threads and pulled on them to see what would unravel. (Blessed be the crate diggers.) Songs like this are too good to be forever ignored, is what I'm saying.

"Il N’y A Rien Au Monde Que Je Ne Ferais Pas Pour Cette Fille", by Les Sultans. Speaking of psychedelic pop music circa 1967, here we have some psychedelic pop music circa 1966. The French have a reputation for not always "getting" popular music, but between cavern dwellers like this and those ye-ye girls, I think we can say that the mid-sixties were not like that. It's a wonder Wes Anderson hasn't used this song in a movie. Yet. (Literal translation? "There is nothing in the world at what I do wouldst not for this girl." Adrienne, this song is for you.)

"One Way Track", by Bernhoft. If I said this sounded like Renee Geyer singing "Love Will Keep Us Together" as re-rendered by Pharrell Williams, would you hold it against me? Listen to it once or twice, you might hate it. Listen to it a third time, and you will be irretrievably hooked. It's not too late to turn back.